The Odyssey and the Agony

sunrise jax

I wasn’t sure what to expect when we applied for a couple’s Project Odyssey through Wounded Warrior Project.  As we have attended other similar events, we did expect some type of group therapy discussions.

We were housed at the beautiful TPA Saltgrass Resort in Ponte Vedra Beach (I highly recommend the Fried Green Tomato Pimento Cheese Sandwich if you are ever in town).  The folks at this Marriott were beyond kind and went out of their way over the couple of days to make sure we had what we needed.  This location caters to corporate meetings and they have a Starbucks located inside.  How genius is that?

The staff from WWP were great.  Their intent was to facilitate all kinds of discussions through thoughtful discussion, art projects and bonding exercises.  As with most groups of military families, this can devolve into herding cats.  A lot has been going on in their corporate offices and they handled it well.

I am not a big fan of team building exercises (in corporate environments I have seen the quickly go awry).  A similar thing happened on this venture but with a lot more emotion.  On our first day we were kind of thrown into tandem kayaks with no instruction and told, go to this point down river.

What a mess.

Our guide was knowledgeable, the area was beautiful and my Veteran had the most epic melt down in the history of melt downs out in the middle of the water.  In retrospect, it was HILARIOUS, but at the time it didn’t feel like it.  We had to work through some things for sure but I could have done without the trial by fire.

The next day was a team exercise where half of us were blindfolded and had to come from a room off the larger area into a place where the other half was to make us sit in chairs but no one could talk.  In preparation, my team half developed more than one plan cheerfully and were ready to go.  My Veterans team half apparently fought the entire time.

What happened next was even worse.

Being unable to see and have people grabbing on you brings up all kinds of issues.  Whether you are a Veteran or not, if you have trust issues or space issues or all of the above from a trauma, this reignited all of that.  To say that there was some emotion and crying is an understatement.beach backpack task

The next day’s beach activities were much more beneficial.  Everyone worked together and felt supported.  It was nice to see.

We have talked often since about whether we would have participated had we known any of this in advance and I am not sure.  They don’t give a schedule so you are forced to roll with it but that resulted in being ill prepared wardrobe wise and very stressed when it came to times for medications.

It could hbeach task2ave been handled better.

The results, however, are hard to argue with.  There were conversations that needed to be had that finally started.  There were plans to be made that finally were.  There was thoughtful consideration of personal goals which had been lacking.  I am glad for the experience of it but not sure I would recommend it for everyone.  If you aren’t in the right head space for that or not in the place in your relationship where you are ready to work on things, you would be miserable.

Fair warning.

 

 

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Resource update: Christmas

Greetings!

I hope everyone is well and fully in the preparation of a glorious holiday season!  Realistically, I know this is a stressful time for everyone.  Hang in there, reach out to someone to talk and take deep breaths and long walks.  This too shall pass.

As a reminder, I don’t know if any of you found this on the data base I posted previously but this is the link for Christmas related items HERE I am not 100% on the due dates for all of them but in case there is one in your area or one still open, apply!  You will not know what kind of help you can get if you are unwilling to  ask for it.  If nothing else, remember this for next year and start your applications early!

I hope you find some time for smiling this holiday.  I have done that by checking out of the typical family dramas and going my own way.  You are in charge of you, REMEMBER THAT!

I wish for your and yours peace, light and laughter in the remaining days of the year.  Soon we will be getting ready to wipe the slate clean and start all over.  What are your intentions for 2016?

I have a long list, I will post them soon!

 

 

 

Summer Round Up and Holiday Goings On

WOW.

I knew I would be busy this summer but I didn’t expect it to disappear in the blink of an eye!  There was a great deal of awesome sprinkle with a bit of not so great.  Isn’t that how life really is most days?

Our retreat to Boulder Crest was AH-MAZING!  We went for the Songwriting with Soldiers retreat mostly because this appealed to our youngest daughter and came away HUGE believers in music therapy.  Everyone was so kind and interested in helping in any way they could and I highly recommend retreats with either group that you may be able to do in the future.  What’s great about Boulder Crest is that you can also rent a cabin with them for a week!  YES, REALLY.  It’s beautiful, quiet and peaceful there.  To get up to date on all things Boulder Crest, you can check them out HERE.  For more information on Songwriting with Soldiers and their events, you can check them out HERE.  If you are interested in the songs we wrote that weekend, you can check them out HERE.  (YES, I am the lassie from Tallahassee who is all about the fun!)

Our girl on fire competed in the Outdoor Nationals which was held in tiny Decatur, Alabama.  The weather was quite disagreeable but it gave us the opportunity to take her to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville.  She very much is still on the “I am going to be a scientist and go to work for NASA” career path so she was blown away.  Sometimes life can really get you down but those are the kinds of moments that are my favorite, when we can watch our kid light up like a Christmas tree.  I don’t think she stopped smiling for days.  At that point, we made the resolution to no matter why we are traveling, fun or not so fun, that we take a break to have a little side trip.  So many amazing places in the country and sometimes we just drive right by them!  WELL STOP IT!

My father was moved to hospice home care shortly afterwards so I have made three unscheduled (read = EXPENSIVE) trips out of state to visit.  While I love my family, it is not fun to watch the drama that unfolds surrounding this.  My dad, a Vietnam Veteran, has had decades of substance abuse without seeking therapy or treatment, so while it is sad, it is certainly not expected.  It has been very hard living out of state and juggling the animosity that brings up for some people but the fact is, I am also primary caregiver to a Veteran that lives in my house.  I also have minor children to raise.  I also can’t do everything.  UGH.

Back to school started and it is always weird to see my youngest just a little bit older and closer to going to college.  She has set high standards for herself and we are mostly just trying to get out of the way!  We are hoping once she is there that there are more scholarship opportunities for children of disabled Veterans.  Currently there is a surprising lack of those I have found.

I finally got to head out on a caregivers retreat and I will write more about that in another post but that is something else that is critically important, yet not enough of them!  Right after that, I had my first experience with surgery at a VA facility, also another blog post, and that was interesting to say the least!

The holidays are coming up, are you guys doing anything fantastic?  We are going to attempt a family reunion of sorts in Orlando.  Since the way we handled things last Christmas went well and my Warrior loved it, we thought why not invite everyone?  In a way it also helps avoid more of that drama that keeps popping up and I am all about less drama.  Why waste time being miserable on any holiday?  It is okay to do something different and just order pizza.  No one will die and what if you end up having the time of your lives?  It’s possible, ya’ll know that right?

 

PEACE!

Resource Update

I hope everyone is getting ready for an awesome holiday weekend.  Remember to do something fun and productive with your family.  Those memories will be something they carry with them the rest of the year!  We are checking out the Song writing retreat through Boulder Crest so I am hoping to have loads of pictures and stories for you when we return.

I wanted to pass on a great link to another caregivers blog that also has a resource page.  Maybe there are some things here you have been looking for?  I hope you find it helpful.

Peace!

Summer is Coming

This is the time of year I both look forward to and simultaneously dread.

 

Am I the only one? 

 

It seems like my TO-DO list always has 10,000 things on it and some of it gets done but it never completely goes away.  When you pile no more school, nice weather, a teenagers social engagements and archery season it already feels overwhelming.

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For us, this is added on top of fighting with the Veterans Administration to complete a claim, trying to find a public servant that feels like taking up our cause, getting an advocate to shuffle us to the top of the every growing mound of cases and trying to navigate the VA healthcare system as a Caregiver, it’s downright maddening.

 

So how do you program in time for the good stuff?

 

I am trying to make a habit this month of carrying the magazines and books with them every where I go.  I put this stuff off but it’s truly on of my favorite escapes and who needs that more than me?  That’s right, ALL OF US.  In doing so, when appointments go from “real quick labs” to “waiting room hell for an hour” I have found that I am actually getting through some of them and it makes me happy!

 

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I started my seeds directly in the garden this year.  It is a bit more risky but it seemed like to me if it worked, it would be a lot easier in the long run.  While I still have mulch to put down and soaker hoses to run, I am on my way and oh yeah, I am getting some sun and fresh air along the way.  As difficult as it is to take time for anything, I finally figured out that I could do some of the work, a little at a time, when I take the dog out.  She has to go out any way so why not multi task? IMG_0186

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s next?

This summer we have archery trips, a teenager getting a learner’s permit, SAT classes, camp and maybe a fun trip.  There will be house projects to finish and new things to learn.  I am already tired.

 

What will you guys be doing this summer?  How do you program in stuff just for you?  What is your favorite escape?

Managed Chaos

Probably the best part of attending any training class is simply the fact that it validates the struggle. You are not alone as a caregiver and hopefully you have someone to support you in that.  I also learn about new stuff and that is never a bad thing.  I try to share new things when I find them and there have been a couple of things that have helped recently I wanted to let you guys know about.

CAREZONE – This is an awesome app that has allowed me to put my Warrior in control of more of what is happening. This sends messages for medication times and he has to swipe and check off which one he has taken. Before we were in a position of me following up three times a day, almost always there was one dose missed and then the after effects of the missed meds. Now, he actually is remembering because he knows he will get a prompt. How cool is that? I still check in every few days but for the most part he is taking it on time and sometimes before the alarm goes off.   Its super easy to load the meds in and I am sure it does more than what we are using it for at the moment. I will let you know about future uses of the app that I use!

CHOPRA CENTER MEDITATION – Meditation is a great way to relieve the stress that the day hands you. I know that there are tons of places to get meditations and music but this is where I come back to every quarter. Deepak teams up with Oprah every quarter to do a new series of guided meditations geared towards a specific goal. These are free and delivered to your email daily for 21 days. This way you can potentially create the habit of meditation that you return to even after the series is done. The next one up is Manifesting True Success and I am already signed up. I wish I could remember to sit down every day and meditate but that doesn’t always happen. This is a manageable commitment once a quarter that adds substantially to my life. What’s better than that?

WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT – If you aren’t signed up for WWP, you should be. The offer a great deal for Warriors and more now, things that spouses and/or kids can attend. Recently in our area they have been offering cooking classes. It doesn’t sound like that big a deal but my Warrior and I have really begun to enjoy a regular date night and these are activities that we wouldn’t normally be able to afford otherwise. Look them up, sign up, and attend! The more that you show up, the more that they will reach out to us. Time off to not worry about things for even a couple of hours is the most priceless therapy I could ever imagine.

I am sure that there are other things that I should be adding but this is what has come up for us this week. What are some useful tools you have? How do you manage stress? What do you do for date night?